The government of Nepal has saved the three operators namely Nepal Satellite (Hello Mobile), Smart Telecom, and Websurfer from being scrapped. Earlier NTA, the regulator had decided to scrap the license of those operators for not clearing pending dues. Now the cabinet has come to the decision to let them operate without any hurdle.
Before, Nepal Satellite and Websurfer went to the Supreme court against the NTA’s scrapping decision. But the Apex court recommended them to go to the judicial council inside the Ministry for the review of their license as per the provision in the Telecommunication Act. Whereas Smart Telecom only submitted their letter to MoCIT for the review.
Based on the same, the operators filed a review request to the Ministry which was then forwarded to the Cabinet. Following the request, the cabinet concluded to scrap the earlier decision of NTA, paving the way for the companies to operate without hindrance.
The operators had also asked for the instalment facility to pay the huge amount of pending fees. As the request has also been accepted by the government, they can pay the amount in 5 installments.
The pending dues of the service providers are in the name of the license fee, royalty fee, frequency fee, RTDF. As the pending dues were record high, independent bodies/parliamentary bodies recommended scrapping the license of those operators. NTA has also planned to give the license to foreign companies to make the market more competitive. But their plan would be shelved for now due to the revival of those companies.
Smart Telecom has the largest pending dues of NRs 2 billion and 322.5 million for RTDF, frequency, royalty, license fees, and late fees. Similarly, Nepal Satellite Telecom (Hello Mobile) and Websurfer have to clear around NRs 820 million and 30.7 million fees respectively.
Smart Telecom already holds the unified license to operate telecom services around the country. They have around 2.4 lakhs customers in 4G and 2G.
While Nepal Satellite holds the rural telephony license for the mid-western and far western region. The telecom company had also asked NTA to let them operate the service in Kathmandu. Now that they could resume its operation, the total number of telecom operators in Nepal has become six again. For which, people argue it is a too high number for a small country like Nepal.
Websurfer is an Internet/cable TV service provider with services in co-axial cable, Fiber to around 18 thousand customers.
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